Protection from ourselves

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Two days ago I walked into a pharmacy and bought 3 ampules of b12. For a known reason, my body doesn’t absorb b12. Initially I was prescribed b12 injections, which brought my b12 level up from ‘heart failure’ to ‘low/uninteresting’. I was told that I would probably require supplementation for life.

No worries, I thought, I can buy the stuff from the chemist and inject it myself (intramuscular, not venous). This, incidentally, was the advice from my doctor.

So, after putting it off for too long, I finally went to the chemist and bought three months of b12. And then I asked for the syringes to go with it.

The pharmacist gives me a dead-eyed stare; ‘We don’t sell syringes here’.  That’s what his lips said anyway. His eyes said; I see you in your voluminous, unusual shaped skirt, mid length hair and earrings you would describe to your co-workers as ‘funky’, but your boring middle-aged woman disguise won’t work on me. I know you’re a filthy junky. 

Now I don’t know a lot about injecting drug users but I’m pretty sure they’re not asking for intramuscular syringes. It seems to me they’re probably aiming for a vein, not a soft, rising mound of pale buttock flesh. I don’t think those blue lights in public dunnies were put there to make your arse look more like a moon. Because no-one wants to inject the moon.

Where was I? Ah yes. Junkies.

If I thought that buying intramuscular syringes at the chemist was the root of galloping drug use and its accompanying entrenched social decay then maybe I’d get it. But it isn’t. Australia, in case you haven’t noticed, is already awash with drug addicts. There doesn’t seem to be much trouble accessing drugs. And, in this area, it seems that the non-injecting drugs are far more problematic than the old fashioned ones. Like everywhere else, ice seems to have taken hold. And of course it’s a precious irony that the local chemist that refused me stands next to the supermarket bottle shop.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of decriminalising ice, but my opinion doesn’t matter – if the amount of staggering lunatics is anything to go by, it appears to be more or less tolerated anyway.

After all, the average life span of a regular ice user is ~5 years, with a fairly low standard deviation. Unlike other drugs, ice leaves its survivors compromised in expensive ways, potentially requiring a lifetime of health interventions and support. What’s a government to do?

A) Wait for it to ‘run its course’? (5 years of potential anti-social behaviour in disastrously sweaty sneakers). Cost; policing possibly jail, ~5 years.

B) Assist addict to rehabilitate and pay for resulting lifetime of healthcare. Cost ~40 years of intensive healthcare.

Oooo, it’s a tricky one.


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